Objects In Space

Also caught the Serenity blogger preview last night. Liked it, didn’t love it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun flick with a lot of slam-bang, and as others have noted, an unusual amount of solid character writing for the genre from creator Joss Whedon.

That said, I have to disagree with Steve on one point: I suspect people who didn’t see the “Firefly” TV series (and not many did) are going to be more than a little lost. I thought the script assumed too much familiarity with the characters and their histories–although I should note that Glenn, who apparently hasn’t seen the show, liked the movie just fine, so it’s possible I’m all wet. Then again, Glenn is a science fiction fan, and this is a movie expertly tailored to the smart-SF crowd. I have my doubts about it crossing over to a larger audience, but I’d be happy to be wrong about that.

For those who were already familiar with the show, it’s great fun, even if some of the characters got relatively short shrift just by the nature of the beast (Jewel Staite’s wonderful Kaylee, for instance, didn’t have much to do in this movie, but she still gets the best one-liner in the script). I liked the story a lot, particularly the explanation of how the cannibalistic Reavers came to be (which made a hell of a lot more sense than “they just went nuts because space is so big”). It takes chances, and isn’t afraid to get very, very dark. Whedon pretty openly based his lead character on Han Solo, but for all the happy-go-lucky-ism that implies, this really isn’t an upbeat tale–and good for Whedon for dodging that temptation.

On the other hand, for all the kudos that “Firefly” received for presenting “realistic” science fiction, the movie repeats one of the show’s most annoying conceits, with characters recovering almost instantly from major traumatic injuries. Granted, that’s also a conceit of the Western, from which the “Serenity” world borrows heavily, so perhaps it’s a feature and not a bug, but it still bugs me.

To sum up: I had a good time, and if I’d paid for a ticket, I wouldn’t have regretted the time or the cost. It’s the kind of thing you’ll like, if you like this kind of thing.


16 Responses to “Objects In Space”

  1. Ian Hamet Says:

    I’m making my way through the show for the first time now, and I actually think you’re partly wrong on the “instand recovery” thing. They haven’t made a big deal about it, but the episodes have an average of one month between each one (at least up to episode 11, Trash, where I am now). Even the two seemingly-closely consecutive eps, Shindig and Safe, are three weeks apart.

    But yeah, people are getting seriously wounded a LOT. 🙂

  2. Steve Says:

    He’s talking about the movie, not the series.

  3. Will Collier Says:

    Actually I was talking about both, but it’s much more pronounced in the movie (Jayne running around for the rest of the movie after getting a spear through his calf, etc.).

    I’m perfectly willing to suspend disbelief, just don’t rub my face in it…

  4. Beth's Contradictory Brain Says:


    The screening for Serenity last night was pretty cool. It was a huge theater and was probably 80% full. Universal…

  5. rpl Says:

    The thing is, you can’t let realism get in the way of a good story. Having half the crew laid up in the infirmary for most of the movie doesn’t exactly make for an exciting screenplay, so you’re left with two alternatives. Either nobody ever gets hit in a fight, or you gloss over the effects of their injuries when they do. Each has its advantages and its disadvantages, and good storytelling will use a little of both so that (hopefully) neither one gets bad enough to annoy the audience.

    Nevertheless, no matter how good the storytelling, any action story is going to have to bend the rules of reality a bit because in reality exciting action sequences of the sort we like to see on the movie screen usually get their participants nominated for Darwin awards. It’s possible to go too far, to require too much suspension of disbelief, but I find that line is more often crossed with intangible things, like how much stupidity in a plan a reasonable person should be willing to tolerate. When it comes to injury I’m relatively forgiving because when you get right down to it, the human body’s capacity to absorb damage is generally reached far before an audience’s capacity to absorb excitement. In other words, “Repeat to yourself, `it’s just a show. I should really just relax…'”

    On the other hand, while watching the show I did often wonder just what they did before the doctor joined the crew.


  6. Garrett Says:

    Flaunt it in my face that you guys got to see it 3 days early.


  7. RPD Says:

    I’m willing to give the show a pass on the injury recovery because:
    1. They have a gifted trauma surgeon on board
    2. Something like 500 years of medical advances that they haven’t defined very well.

    Considering the medical advances I’ve seen in the last 40 years, I wouldn’t be surprised to see much faster recovery times in the far future.

  8. BizzyBlog.com Says:

    “Serenity” Is Special for Its Sincerity

    NOTE: This review has NO spoilers.
    Joss Whedon, the Emmy-nominated writer/director of the television hits “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel,” has created a big-screen winner in “Serenity.”
    Whedon satisfies t…

  9. alcibiades Says:

    I just saw it with a theatre full of people who definitely didn’t seem like they were all filled in on the backstory – self selected bloggers on the one hand, and people who won tickets from radio stations and other free distributors on the other hand. And judging from the positive audience reaction, the sound of inhaled breath, clapping at the end, etc, they really seemed into it.

    Joss also made a point of saying in recent interviews, that he learned a lot from the earlier showings they gave in the late spring, and changed the story based on the reaction of audience members unfamiliar with the story before hand.

  10. KJB43 Says:

    Good thing I have read the blogsphere reviews of this film. When I saw the movie poster displayed over at Powerline I was unimpressed. I was reminded of the Dungeons and Dragons movie. I would go see “Serenity”, if it is still in the theaters when I get back from Iraq next year, sigh.
    I really wanted to see “The Great Raid” in the theater too. I wonder why it has done so poorly? Is it the generic title, the lack of promotion, Iraq war weariness, a topic few people have heard of; after all people “know” the Pacific War in WW II was all about Marines invading islands….?

  11. Abracadabrah Says:

    Just Got Back From Seeing Serenity…

    What a great film! It manages to epitomize the American foundation myth, using its power and its appeal to drive forward the thrust of the story. Superpower though we may now be in the world…

  12. Timothy Says:

    I could’ve gone, but I didn’t want to deal with the Universal BS, and alone at that. I’ll go this weekend.

  13. b1-66er Says:

    the film industry needs to realize that two kinds of people see a movie version of a story that already exists in the public mind: familiar fans and newbies.

    for this reason alone, you should drop any sort of backstory or “creation” ideas. the fans already know it, the newbies don’t care.

    like with “spiderman,” take 10 minutes, bite peter parker with a radioactive spider and then get on with swingin’-and-fightin’.

    same thing is true here, you can make references and allusions to the show that fans can like — but don’t set up the fundamental story such that you need to know anything about it … it bores (or tiny inaccuracies disturb) the hardcores and leaves the noobs without enough information. it’s a solution which pleases none.


  14. Mike Daley Says:

    Was going to go on at length regarding the innumerable failings of “Firefly” and the resulting question of why see movie length version?
    I’ve been reading (Heinlein and Asimov since the early 50’s) and watching SciFi since long before most of you drew your first breath and, IMHO, but I’m certain unrespected,
    you’d be much better off buying the DVD’s of “Destination Moon” and “Forbidden Planet”
    Of course you’ll miss Serenity’s combination of WWII submarine’s with Kubrick’s B-52’s as interior shots. Everybody knows 26th Century FTL craft will have miles of exposed plumbing.
    Oh, and let’s not fortget the angst ridden, & hidden horrors not to be spoken of, the crew members and “passengers” suffer from. Days of Our Lives meets Deep Station Nine.
    However, on the plus side, not near as bad as Farscape and Battlestar Galactica.

  15. Mary Katharine Says:

    Just wanted to add, Will, that I’m a total Joss Whedon illiterate and never been a big sci-fi kind of girl, but I loved the movie. The characters and writing were so much more solid than the average action or sci-fi flick. In that respect, I really thought Whedon raised the bar, as most of his fans probably already knew he would. It got rave reviews from another non-sci-fi fan in our office, too. I didn’t have any trouble understanding the plot, though I was a little confused about Mal and Inara’s relationship. In the end, the movie left me wanting to see these characters again, so I’m going to be DVRing the Sci-Fi Channel for the first time ever, if I can find Firefly.

  16. McGehee Says:

    Mary Kat, they’re on Friday nights at 7 pm Eastern.

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